An End to Suffering tells of Pankaj Mishra's search to understand the Buddha's relevance in today's world, where religious violence, poverty and terrorism prevail. As he travels among Islamists and the emerging Hindu Muslim class in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, Mishra explores the myths and places of the Buddha's life, the West's "discovery" of Buddhism, and the impact of Buddhist ideas on such modern politicians as Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Mishra ultimately reaches an enlightenment of his own by discovering the living meaning of the Buddha's teaching, in this "unusually discerning, beautifully written, and deeply affecting reflection on Buddhism" (Booklist).
Mishra (The Romantics) offers an ambitious "book-length essay" that combines an overview of the life, times and teachings of the Buddha with personal anecdotes and extended multidisciplinary forays into realms such as ancient and modern history, philosophy, politics and literary criticism. If Mishra's approach is broad, it is also deep and often effective. For example, his close reading of early Indian scriptures and his historical-political examination of the Buddha's society bring to life a "half-mythical antiquity" that, in turn, helps the reader see the Buddha's teachings afresh: not as generic spiritual truisms but rather as specific responses to particular religious and social conditions. Yet the book fails to anchor its broad perspective in a strong central thesis. While it follows the chronology of the Buddha's life, Mishra intersperses whole chapters exploring topics such as "The Death of God" and "Empires and Nations." These discussions of Nietzsche's opinions of the Buddha or Zen Buddhism's endorsement of Japanese imperialism are themselves compelling, but feel disjointed. Mishra also frequently shifts the focus to his own life; sometimes this artfully illustrates a point, but at other times it borders on the self-indulgent. Nevertheless, for serious readers the book is a rich and challenging--if sometimes meandering--invitation to explore the Buddha's legacy across centuries, continents and cultures.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
September 14, 2005
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.